No. 2 – Oklahoma Sooners Season Preview
Oklahoma has had the most consistently awesome offense in the country over the last six years. The Sooners have scored at least 42 PPG in each of the last six seasons, leading to three appearances in the College Football Playoff in the last four years. However, the Sooners have been unable to get a win in the CFP, seeing their hopes thwarted by Georgia, Alabama, and LSU. They are optimistic that this year will be different with Heisman Trophy betting favorite Spencer Rattler back, but it all comes down to the defense.
Oklahoma Regular Season Win Total
Over 11 Wins -130
Under 11 Wins +100
Spencer Rattler had a rough FBS debut in 2020, but he looked like the next great Oklahoma quarterback by the end of the season. Rattler completed 67.5% of his passes for 3,031 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions last year. He has solid scrambling ability, and he should be one of the most productive quarterbacks in the nation in 2021.
All the top receivers from last year return except for Charleston Rambo. Marvin Mims was very impressive as a freshman, and tight end Austin Stogner had a nice season too. Unfortunately, Theo Wease will miss several weeks after suffering an injury in practice, but the Sooners do have a plethora of talented receivers.
Oklahoma has two great options at running back. Tennessee transfer Eric Gray ranked sixth in the SEC in rushing yards per game last season, and Kennedy Brooks is back after sitting out the 2020 campaign. They both have big play capability behind this offensive line.
Three starters return up front for the Sooners. Tyrese Robinson is a very good tackle prospect, and Arizona transfer Robert Congel is going to provide a boost. That should help a unit that struggled with pass blocking in 2020.
Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has done an excellent job with this defense since coming to Norman. Oklahoma allowed 27.3 PPG in 2019, and the Sooners gave up just 21.7 PPG last season. This should be his best defense yet with eight returning starters.
Linemen Isaiah Thomas and Perrion Winfrey were both Second Team All-Big 12 selections in 2020. Thomas led Oklahoma with 8.5 sacks, while Winfrey led the Sooners with 5.5 tackles for loss. They are very disruptive forces that should help open up lanes for other players to get to the quarterback.
The linebackers are very good too. Nik Bonitto was a Second Team All-American with eight sacks, two interceptions, and 10 quarterback hurries in 2020. Brian Asamoah led the team with 66 tackles, and David Ugwoegbu has experience too.
Secondary is the only real concern on defense. Oklahoma has done a better job of recruiting though, and the Sooners added Key Lawrence from Tennessee. This unit will likely make or break OU’s national championship hopes in 2021.
Oklahoma will now get to host its first four games of the season after its road game against Tulane was moved to Norman as a result of Hurricane Ida. The Sooners shouldn’t be tested until the Red River Showdown against Texas on the second weekend of October, and their only tough stretch is in the final three weeks when a home game against Iowa State is sandwiched between road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma State.
This might be the Sooners’ best chance to win a national title yet under Lincoln Riley. The offense should be solid with Rattler, and the defense has the potential to be the best in years. An unbeaten season is likely in the cards for Oklahoma.